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"Uh, Winning?" - The Error of Defying God
Defying God; Repentance; Forgiveness

[dih-fahy-uh ns]
1. a daring or bold resistance to authority or to any opposing force.
2. open disregard; contempt (often followed by of ): defiance of danger; His refusal amounted to defiance.
3. a challenge to meet in combat or in a contest.

Main Point of Discussion: The longer and more intensely we defy God, the harder our hearts become—and the harder it is to come to our senses and let God take the wheel, heal us, and grant us peace and rest.

Vital Info Before You Get Started: (The following should help you contextualize this very popular issue so you can have a great discussion about it with your kids.)

  • Charlie Sheen has been making headlines ever since his star turn in Oliver Stone’s 1986 classic, Platoon. The ultimate bad-boy off screen, Sheen’s lived life not in the fast lane but orbiting the planet at the speed of light. Drug busts. Domestic violence allegations. Divorces. Prostitutes and porn stars. Car crashes. We’ve grown used to Sheen’s magnetism for all things controversial in Hollywood. But TV’s highest-paid actor—$1.25 million per episode for the hit comedy, Two and a Half Men—has taken things to new levels lately. A drunken escapade in Las Vegas (during which Sheen played hooky from the set of Two and a Half Men, halting production) in early January was followed later in the month by a two-day party ending with Sheen rushed to an L.A. hospital. Then he started making outrageous statements to the media and has appeared to grow more and more unstable; jaw-droppers the talented thespian’s offered to quote hounds have included referring to himself as a “warlock,” coining the mantra-of-the-moment—“Winning!”—and ranting nearly nonstop. Soon his estranged wife (while in rehab, no less) secured a restraining order against Sheen on behalf of their two young sons, whom authorities removed from his house. Meanwhile CBS cancelled Two and a Half Men for the rest of the season, banned Sheen from the lot, and finally fired him last week. Sheen’s response? Waving a machete atop a building while drinking a bottle of “Tiger Blood” and yelling “Free at last!”

  • You can download any number of minute-long clips that show Sheen’s behavior of late; here’s one suggestion:

  • Above all, don’t appear as if you have a “canned” discussion in your head and rattle off questions like a teacher giving a pop quiz—your kids get enough of that in school. This is a guide, primarily—not a verbatim script. Just familiarize yourself with the content here and start a conversation in the most natural, unforced way you know how.

Introducing the Clip:
The Charlie Sheen locomotive roars on. There’s seemingly a new comment or tirade or wacky interview (or parody of Sheen) hitting the Internet daily. His new Twitter account—boasting a record-setting 2 million-plus (and growing) followers after only a week online—fuels the fire. Sure we’re rapt by Sheen’s very public (and often very funny) displays, but there’s obviously something deeper and troubling going on. Armchair speculation about what’s wrong is fruitless and unfair—that’s better left to experts. But at least one thing appears clear:
Charlie Sheen is defying…everything. The network brass that fired him; the authorities who’ve busted him; the pundits who daily chastise and critique him—even his dad, actor Martin Sheen, wasn’t spared a tongue lashing. But whenever a new development surfaces that you’d think would bring Sheen to his senses, he comes back with a bigger bat and wallops whatever’s in his way. It seems the more cards stacked against him, the bigger hand he plays—Sheen isn’t backing down. His defiance is breathtaking. (Watch suggested clip.)

Three Simple Questions (with Answers You May Be Looking for):
    Q: What’s going on with Charlie Sheen?
    A: He’s going through a really hard time, and he’s fighting back against everything and everyone standing in his way.

    Q: How do you suppose we—as serious Christ-followers—should react to his behavior?
    A: We should pray for him and his family rather than mock him. It should also remind us of what we may look like when we defy God—and that’s never an attractive sight.

    Q: How can we move from healthy, Bible-based opinions about this situation to actually living out those opinions?
    A: When things go wrong in our lives—and in others’ lives—God knows and cares. We need to remind ourselves of this fact and not lose sight of it. When this fact is firmly in our minds, we mustn’t give in to the temptation to lash out at others or at God. And we must never defy God. Even if it seems as though God is allowing all sorts of pain to happen in our lives or in others’ lives, “fighting back” against God is really bad idea, a waste of energy, and a losing proposition. God loves us; defying God (especially when God is placing us through trials meant for growth or preparation for big things) shows our lack of love for God.

Where to Take It from Here:
Wherever it feels natural. If these questions lead to a longer discussion on the topic, wonderful! (There’s a guide just after this paragraph that helps you do just that.) If your kids are barely uttering grunts, don’t get discouraged—the next time it feels right, keep engaging them.

For Deeper Discussion: (If your kids seem into diving in deeper, the following discussion guide can help take you there.)

CLICK HEREif you want to look at a quick training article on small groups and drawing questions out of young people—you may find much of the information applicable as you go through this subject with your family members.

Transitional Statement:

We’re not here to bash Charlie Sheen. In fact, as believers in Jesus, we’d better be praying for Sheen (and his family) rather than poking fun at him or criticizing him. But Sheen’s incredible defiance against all reason is a vivid window through which we should take a look at our own attitudes at times when it comes to dealing with God. When do we behave (even in our own minds) like Sheen as part of our relationships with Jesus? And are there non-Christians in our lives who harbor such feelings toward God, creating constant barriers to a relationship with him? Because defying the One who loves us the most ain’t exactly the best solution for what’s ailing us.

More Discussion Questions:
  1. HAVE ALL YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS ANSWER: Tell everyone your favorite Charlie Sheen movie or TV show (if you have a favorite) and why you like him in that role.

  2. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Without naming names or mentioning specifics, share about an instance when you observed a Christian or non-Christian respond defiantly toward God for whatever reasons or circumstances. What was the result—how did it end up?

  3. Read the following passage from the Bible:

      Proverbs 1:30-33 (NIV 2011)
      30 Since they would not accept my advice
      and spurned my rebuke,
      31 they will eat the fruit of their ways
      and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.
      32 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them,
      and the complacency of fools will destroy them;
      33 but whoever listens to me will live in safety
      and be at ease, without fear of harm.”

  4. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: The message seems plain and simple. Why do you suppose some (or many) keep going their own ways and give reign to their anger/defiance/pride when it’s clear what the results will be?

  5. Read the following passage from the Bible:

      Job 9:21-24 (NIV 2011)
      21 “Although I am blameless,
      I have no concern for myself;
      I despise my own life.
      22 It is all the same; that is why I say,
      ‘He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.’
      23 When a scourge brings sudden death,
      he mocks the despair of the innocent.
      24 When a land falls into the hands of the wicked,
      he blindfolds its judges.
      If it is not he, then who is it?

  6. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: As you may know, Job is an Old Testament figure who was subjected to incredible pain and loss, and God let it happen to him—and even though Job was a righteous man (v. 21). In this passage Job is reacting to God’s seeming indifference to his plight in a way that might sound reasonable—or perhaps familiar—to us, depending on what we’ve each been through. What about Job’s “rant” to you sounds like defiance against God?

  7. Read the following passage from the Bible:

      Job 40:6-10 (NIV 2011)
      6 Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm:
      7 “Brace yourself like a man;
      I will question you,
      and you shall answer me.
      8 “Would you discredit my justice?
      Would you condemn me to justify yourself?
      9 Do you have an arm like God’s,
      and can your voice thunder like his?
      10 Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor,
      and clothe yourself in honor and majesty.

  8. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: In this passage how would you summarize God’s point of view in regard to allowing Job’s pain? (Parent—answer you’re looking for: God declares that he’s operating on a far different plain than humans—so different and so much higher that God owes us no explanation for his infinitely wiser decisions about what happens to us, good or bad)

  9. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Do you believe it’s fair that God operates that way? That God owes us no explanations for why certain things happen to us?

  10. Read the following passage from the Bible:

      Job 42:6-10 (NIV 2011)
      1 Then Job replied to the LORD:
      2 “I know that you can do all things;
      no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
      3 You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
      Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
      things too wonderful for me to know.
      4 “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
      I will question you,
      and you shall answer me.’
      5 My ears had heard of you
      but now my eyes have seen you.
      6 Therefore I despise myself
      and repent in dust and ashes.”

  11. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What about Job’s reply to God stands out to you? Can you identify with and understand Job’s new attitude?

  12. HAVE ALL YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS ANSWER: What are some things we can do this week to understand and embrace the very difficult fact of pain? What are some things we can do to prevent a defiant response toward God?

Wrap Up:
Life can be a lot of fun. Life can bring a lot of pain and trial, too. Just depends on the day. As the Bible says, God allows the rain to fall on the just and the unjust—there’s no escaping the storm. The question is, what will be our response to God when the storm hits? Will we react defiantly toward Jesus, spurning his discipline, ignoring his wisdom, and questioning his infinite goodness? Or will we “let go and let God” be in control so we can live in safety, be at ease, and have no fear? What seems the best option to you?

God knows we’re weak—that we’re literally dust. God isn’t surprised if we ever lash out at him or defy him—but God (rightfully so) isn’t happy about it. God understands and feels our pain way deeper than even we do, so it’s a waste of time to react defiantly toward God—we’ll only feel badly about our attitudes later.

So let’s not go there, okay? The longer and more intensely we defy God, the harder our hearts become—and the harder it is to come to our senses and let God take the wheel, heal us, and grant us peace and rest. Let’s fall into Jesus’ arms from the get go—because that’s exactly where he wants us to stay.

Close in Prayer

Written by David Urbanski

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